There are many ghost stories but the tale of the dancing ghost is one of the more extreme hauntings as it intensified with time and there seemed to be no way to remove the ghost. The residual presence of spirits causes the sounds heard in haunted residences, human emotions are powerful and can be absorbed into the environment.
THE DANCING GHOST
In the Russian Province of Uralsk, on November 16 1870 Shchapoff, a wealthy landowner returned to his large country estate and found his home in chaos, his young wife told him that she had been unable to get their baby to sleep on the night of the 14th. Mrs. Shchapoff asked Maria the cook to see to their child, Maria began to play the harmonica to calm the child. From the other room Mrs. Shchapoff and the Miller’s wife who she was entertaining, could hear Maria dancing for the young girl. Suddenly the miller’s wife screamed in terror saying that someone was looking in the window. Mrs. Shchapoff could not understand why the woman was so distressed, the miller’s wife said she had seen a horrible face. Maria then entered the room and told Mrs. Shchapoff that her daughter was asleep, Mrs. Shchapoff thanked the cook and told her she would no longer be needed for the evening.
As Mrs. Shchapoff and the miller’s wife continued their conversation, the miller’s wife again saw something at the window and Mrs. Shchapoff walked to the window to investigate, as she did this she heard loud noises from upstairs. The sound first seemed like birds flapping their wings, it then sounded like the dance Maria had been doing for the child. The two women then went to the cook’s quarters as they opened the door they found Maria in her bed fast asleep. The miller’s wife then went to get her husband and the gardener, while Mrs. Shchapoff went to the nursery to check on her daughter. When the miller’s wife returned with her husband and the gardener, the sound of dancing upstairs had reached a crescendo, waking Mrs. Shchapoff’s mother in law and Maria. The two men then searched the house and the grounds unable to find anything that would explain the face at the window and the noisy dance steps coming from upstairs, the racket continued until dawn.
The following evening the ghostly three-step began again, the servants of the Shchapoff household searched the house and ground but were unable to find any trace of the invisible dancing ghost. Again the dancing went on until dawn making sure no-one in the household got any sleep. When Mr. Shchapoff returned the next afternoon from his business trip he made fun of his young wife’s telling of the dancing ghost story, jokingly accusing her of drinking while he was away. Shchapoff was even more scathing when his mother in law told him that there was a supernatural entity in their home. He accused the women of making up stories and disrupting the household, he then sent for the miller who he considered a very astute and sensible man. The miller admitted he had heard strange noises in the house but put this down to the fact that the same day he had removed a pigeon’s nest from under a cornice of the house, he blamed the noise on the bird. Believing the story told by the miller, Shchapoff decided his recollection of events was the only one to believe.
That same evening after everyone had retired to their rooms, Shchapoff sat in his study and began reading, he was disturbed by a scratching noise which he first thought was the pesky pigeon come back to roost. As the noise continued Shchapoff realized it sounded more like someone dancing a three-step in the room above him. Thinking his wife was playing tricks on him, Shchapoff tiptoed upstairs only to find when he looked in the bedroom that she was fast asleep, although as soon as he opened the bedroom door the sound stopped. As Shchapoff closed the door the sound began again louder than ever and was coming from above his wife’s bed. Next there was a sound next to his ear, at this point his wife sat bolt upright in her bed, then two more loud knocks shook the entire house. Shchapoff was livid, he picked up his pistol and put on his coat, declaring that he was going to end the nonsense once and for all.
Shchapoff woke the servants, got his dogs and promised that he was going to put a stop to the goings on, he found nothing that night. Along with his servants and neighbors his grounds and his house were searched. That evening the ghost put on a rousing performance, dancing above the heads of the searchers all night, it then finished by ripping a heavy wooden door from its hinges. By this time the landowner was rattled by what was happening and by evening was pacing the floor nervously waiting for the dancing to begin at the usual time of ten o’clock, but nothing happened. There was nothing again the following night much to the relief of the entire household.
Exactly one month later on December 20 while the Shchapoffs were entertaining who upon hearing the story voiced their skepticism. This made Shchapoff angry, he then summoned Maria to the parlor and requested she perform a three-step to coax the ghost back to the house. Once the cook had completed the dancing, rapping began at the windows, then a three-step was heard coming from the attic overhead. The guests thought that Shchapoff had organized the whole thing and had planted a servant in the attic. The doubting guests went upstairs and found no-one there.
As Shchapoff entertained guests on New Years Eve 1871, Maria was again requested by Shchapoff to dance a three-step to induce the ghost to follow suit and begin dancing. The ghost responded and all the guests heard the sound of a three-step from the room above their heads. This time the ghost began singing Russian folk songs.
What was taking place at the Shchapoff’s parties became known throughout Russia, this gained the attention of scientists and spiritualists who wanted an audience with the dancing ghost. Dr Shustoff an investigator believed the phenomena was caused through the invoking of the magic name of electricity. He said that the solid conditions at the house produced the strange happenings, he further suggested the electrical vibrations were coming from Mrs. Shchapoff.
Dr Shustoff’s theories were overridden when an intelligence responded to conversation and questions presented by investigators. Alekseeff a psychic investigator devised a series of knocks that allowed him to communicate with the being haunting the country estate of Mr. and Mrs. Shchapoff. Alekseef conjectured a curse had been placed on Mr. Shchapoff by a neighboring miller, Alekseef said a devil had been set on him by the malicious neighbor.
Mr. Akutin, an engineer, Dr Shustoff, an electrical theorist and Mr. Savicheff, a magazine editor were appointed by the provincial governor, General Verveking, to officially investigate the strange happenings. After investigation the committee concluded that the bizarre events were being manipulated by Mrs. Shchapoff and warned Mr. Shchapoff that it had to stop. The ghostly sounds continued and the ghost became even more disruptive, balls of fire circled the house, bouncing against the window of Helena Shchapoff’s bedroom. Dresses in Helena’s closet burst into flames, and once a mattress began burning underneath a guest.
The horror escalated when in front of a horrified houseguest and the miller, Mrs. Shchapoff appeared to burst into flames, the witnesses heard a crackling noise from beneath the floor accompanied by a high pitched wailing. A blue spark jumped at Mrs. Shchapoff and her dress was alight, she screamed and collapsed into unconsciousness. The houseguest bravely beat the flames with his bare hands, strangely enough the guest suffered severe burns and Mrs. Shchapoff sustained no injuries whatsoever, yet her dress was consumed by flames.
After this terrifying event the Shchapoff’s had, had enough and left their home permanently, moving to the city of Iletski. Once they were settled in their new home, the ghostly visitations in the country estate ceased, sadly Mrs. Shchapoff died in childbirth eight years after she and her husband had moved.
The haunting of this home in Orensburg was often the subject of conversation and there was much theorizing about what was taking place. Most believed that a curse had been put on Mr. Shchapoff by a disgruntled miller, it seems that the intense hatred projected by the miller caused the haunting to be so intense and disruptive
PILOT WITH A PROMISE TO KEEP
Captain Eldred Bowyer-Bowyer was shot down in his plane over France on March 19, 1917, this was the same day that he was to be named the godfather of his sister’s baby. Mrs. Spearman was staying in a hotel in Calcutta India and while she was attending to her baby, Mrs. Spearman was attending to her baby, she heard a sound behind her. When she turned she saw her half brother standing behind her, she was thrilled to see that he had been transferred to India just in time to attend the baptism of her baby. Mrs. Spearman put the baby down and turned to embrace her brother only to find that he had vanished. She called for him and began to search thinking he was playing a trick on her. Mrs. Spearman was unable to locate her brother and decided to go to the church. Two weeks later she read in the newspaper that her half-brother’s plane had been shot down on the day that he had appeared.
Captain Bowyer-Bowyer, was also seen on the day of his death by an elderly friend of his mother’s, Mrs. Watson, she wrote a letter to Mrs. Bowyer-Bowyer that she had a feeling of anxiety about Eldred.
A very tired Sara Norris rose sleepily to feed her crying baby at 3 am, she walked to the stove to heat the baby’s bottle. As she waited for the bottle to warm, she gazed out the window at the Moon, that evening when she had gone to bed she was exhausted. Sara had, had a difficult pregnancy and delivery, but had returned home to help her husband with the harvest. She had been cooking for the extra help, had been getting very little sleep, and could not afford to hire anyone to help her out. Sara was feeling fragile and overwhelmed, and getting up in the night to feed the baby on top of all the other work she was doing was taking its toll emotionally and physically. Her one wish was to be able to sleep through the night without interruption.
After heating the baby’s bottle, Sara walked into the baby’s room and began feeding her child, Sara then returned to her bedroom. She was amazed to see her own body lying in bed sleeping peacefully. At first she was fearful, then she awakened and realized she had been dreaming.
When she checked on her baby she found him feeding contentedly with the bottle in his mouth. Sara’s non-physical soul had separated itself from her exhausted sleeping body to allow her to catch up on her sleep. The baby was attended to by her spirit after she had freed her spiritual essence from her physical form, she had then witnessed her own ghost.
FAMOUS GHOSTLY ENCOUNTERS
In 1564, Catherine de Medici saw a gnome like creature dressed in scarlet, she knew this was a ghostly apparition and believed it to be a bad omen. Catherine was already involved in the trouble between Roman Catholics and Protestants in France, she was the instigator of the St. Bartholomew’s Day massacre of the Huguenots. Scarlet was an appropriate colour for the ghost to wear due to the bloodshed that had taken place.
This same little red man appeared to Henry IV before he was assassinated by a schoolteacher in 1610. Terrified chambermaids discovered a scarlet clad gnome in the bed of Louis XVI in 1792, this took place when the king was attempting to escape the French revolutionaries. Some months later, guards claimed to have seen the tiny red ghost in the prison where Louis and Marie Antoinette were waiting to be led to the guillotine.
The scarlet ghost appeared to Napoleon in 1798, during his Egyptian campaign. The spirit made a bargain with the ambitious Napoleon. In the terms of the contract, Napoleon was to enjoy victory on the battlefields of Europe for a decade. The spirit told Napoleon that in the past he had advised the rulers in the past and that he had been at Napoleon’s side since he was a child. The ghost informed Napoleon that the instructions he had issued to the French fleet had not been followed. He told Napoleon that after the Egyptian triumph with the Pyramids the campaign would fail, and Napoleon would return to France and find her closed in by England, Russia, Turkey and Europe.
Just as the ghost predicted the Egyptian campaign failed. After the battle of Wagram, Napoleon made his headquarters at Shonbrunn, the scarlet ghost again appeared to him. After ten years of success, Napoleon asked his ghostly ally for another five years of guaranteed triumph. The ghost agreed as long as Napoleon agreed not to launch a campaign that would take him on Russian soil. Napoleon disregarded the ghost’s caveat and suffered disaster greater than Waterloo.
The ghost’s final and third appearance before Napoleon took place on the 1 January, 1814, just before the emperor abdicated. The scarlet ghost first appeared to Counselor of State Mole’ who had been given strict instructions not to disturb the emperor. Once the man told Napoleon that a red man wanted to speak with him, he was immediately granted an audience with the emperor.
Napoleon pleaded with the ghost to complete the execution of certain proposals, the ghost offered the emperor three months only to achieve peace or everything would come to an end for him. Again Napoleon ignored the ghost’s direction and instead launched a new eastern campaign. Paris then fell to the allies and on 1 April, three months after the red man’s last visit to the emperor, the senate and Talleyrand called for Napoleon’s abdication.
The last sighting of the red ghost occurred in 1824, as Louis XVIII lay dying in Tuileries Palace. In French history, the red ghost is one of the most well known.